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Aprons bind the generations

By MORGAN MANNS
STAFF WRITER

The history of an apron goes far beyond the stains it may collect and nobody knows that better than Becky White-Schooner of Weston.
Schooner was the featured speaker Monday for the Women’s Enrichment Series hosted by First Step where she presented “Every Apron Has a Story.”
She said she began spreading the history of aprons more than 10 years ago because of the memories attached to aprons and the abundant background they carry.
Schooner told a story of one of her aprons that belonged to her great-great-grandmother and has since been passed down through generations.
Her grandmother decided to move to Arizona from Upper Sandusky after graduating from college.
“(My great grandparents) were absolutely infuriated that she was moving to this strange land far away from them,” Schooner said. “Just before she got on the bus, (my great-grandma) gave (my grandma) a box and told her not to open it until she was on her way. … In the box was the apron, strings from the apron and a note that said, ‘It’s time for you to leave the nest and soar. It’s time for me to cut the strings and let you go.’”
Schooner said because her grandmother never had daughters, when she graduated, her grandmother gave her the box with the apron, strings from the apron and that same note.
“She always said she would have something to give me that was so important,” Schooner said. “I never realized how important until that day. … and it’s one of my most cherished memories.”
A few audience members shared their apron stories, from learning how to hand-make an apron to watching their mother wear an apron while starting Sunday dinner before church, to remembering a grandfather who didn’t bake without wearing his apron.
Aprons were originally used in the days of the pioneers for multiple tasks including carrying things, baking and cooking, pulling things out of the oven, wiping hands on, wiping items clean and protecting the dress underneath. According to Schooner, a variety of styles of aprons were used for different occasions, such as cooking and baking, “heavy duty work,” hosting dinner, everyday wear, funerals and their “Sunday best,” which was usually a white apron.
As years went on, the style and looks of aprons determined a women’s social status. In the 1950s and 60s, advertising used aprons to illustrate the work of a woman, thus, symbolizing a woman’s place: servitude. At this point, women stopped wearing their aprons because they didn’t want to feel “oppressed,” according to Schooner.
“Throughout the (1970s) and 80s and 90s women didn’t wear their aprons,” she said. “Now, everything old is new again. The apron is again considered an item of nourishment and comfort and home. It’s something that can be passed on to generations.”

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